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ABOUT :: MATERIALS

In the broadest sense, the materials used in bicycle frame construction are selected for their relative combination of properties in three basic categories: Strength, Weight, and Stiffness. While one can go into great detail on each of these basic properties, for this website's needs we will keep things as succinct as possible.



Strength: Perhaps the most basic and universal of the three terms, this refers to the ratio of absolute weight a material can support before it fails or becomes permanently deformed.

It is possible to have an extremely strong frame that handles terribly, or a frame that handles great but will buckle under the load of an impact.

Weight: Somewhat of a no-brainer, this refers to how "heavy" or "light" a specific quantity of material is. Identical tubes--same diameter, same thickness, same dimensions--of different materials will have different weights.

It is possible to build a very light frame through a process of papier-mâché, but riding it would not be advisable.

Stiffness: The most frequently cited and equally oft-misunderstood aspect of frame material properties, this could loosely be considered as a material's flexibility. That is to say the degree to which a material can be distorted by a load without being permanently deformed.

It is possible to have a very stiff material with little to no strength, and conversely to have a very flexible material that is extremely difficult to break. Consider a piece of uncooked spaghetti versus a length of string.

Taking those three variables into account--both in absolute terms as well as in relation to the characteristics for a specific application--one can arrive at the ideal material for each individual bike. Depending on the intended use(s) of the bike, the ideal materials could be metals, synthetic composites, natural fibers or, as has increasingly been the case, a combination of several materials.

Even when simplified to the most basic terminology, the application of frame materials for bicycles can be terribly complex. Strength is a component of safety and durability moreso than of handling; stiffness has a more immediate impact on handling but also factors into durability. Both the relative strength of a material and its stiffness directly influence technical details such as tube thickness and diameter, and weight is an obvious practical consideration as well. Any way you slice it, the three are intrinsically complimentary when determining the ride characteristics of a frame.

Here at Ti Cycles, we hand-build frames from two primary materials: Titanium and Steel.



Why Titanium?
Because they make space shuttle parts out of it. Titanium’s higher strength and lower density allow for the construction of lighter, higher performance frames.



Why Steel?
Steel, as the saying goes, is real. Though bicycles have been made from all manner of stock over the years--from exotic materials like bamboo and hardwood to metal matrix alloys with unpronouncable names--steel has been the staple of modern bike fabrication since its inception. And for good reason.

Regardless of the materials you choose, every Ti Cycles bike is hand-built, from the mitering of tubes to the precision welding to the assembly and finishing. The attention to detail holds true for both production and custom-built frames.


TiCYCLES Fabrication | 15707 NW McNamee Road . Portland OR 97231 USA | 503.621.9670 | info @ ticycles . com